Past perfect predicaments

predicamentsPast perfect can be tricky to explain and even the most advanced students might be tempted to stick to the past simple instead. One example that illustrates the need to understand the past perfect is the difference between:

when I got to the party everyone left 

when I got to the party everyone had left 

One way to get students to produce iimaginative past perfect sentences is to explain why they were caught in a certain predicament.

Print out or make up a set of past perfect predicament cards. Give each pair of students a shuffled set which should be placed face down on the desk. The first student takes the top card and reads the predicament to their partner.

For example, I saw you at a party last week, you had a big smile on your face, the second student must now explain how they came to be in that situation by using the past perfect, e.g. Yes,I had just got a promotion or I was smiling because I had drunk a whole bottle of champagne.

Make sure to model this well, students might think they need to explain what they were doing and not what they had just done or been doing.

Finally catch up with some of the most interesting answers from the group as a whole and sort out any grammatical problems.


One thought on “Past perfect predicaments

  1. Used this today and it was really great. Very useful and they really enjoyed it. I did it with the situations you provided first, then got them to think of their own situations and did it again with that. Thank you for a great idea!

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